The sun rose as usual. The morning was as beautiful as any other morning that we are blessed with, but amidst all the chaos, who has the time to halt even for five minutes. Sanaa was busy packing lunch for her daughter, her husband was ready to leave for an outstation meeting, which means the responsibility of dropping Meera to school and Shreyas to day care was Sanaa’s. She kept coaxing her elder one to keep her books and bag in place and in the process ended up yelling at her. All of a sudden, the beautiful morning had turned dreadful with Meera crying her lungs out, and watching this, the younger one left no stone unturned in showing his dislikes too. Everything became chaotic, extra hours spent on explaining the elder one, pacifying the younger one. However, Sanaa managed to reach office and was loaded with a lot of work, her targets for the month were not met and thinking of all the chaos suddenly she just blacked out she couldn’t handle it anymore she rushed to the restroom and had the worst type of melt down. This was her first episode and she had no idea that this was a trigger to something big.

There are many such Sanaas in real life and to all of them we would just like to say TAKE A BREAK. It is absolutely fine to have a break in your career. It is important to prioritise self, re-work on mental well being and doing things of our interests that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to do. Before we think of taking that break, it is important we analyse our scenario thoroughly, how do we know whether it is the right time to take a break from work?

  1. Childcare or Elderly Care: One of the major reason to take a career break when our loved ones need our full support and attention and as they say that time passes real quick and hence it is important to capture every moment with our loved ones and be present in that moment.
  2. Occupational Burnout or Chronic Stress: This is a very casual term with long-term after- effects, symptoms being feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job, feeling of negativism related to one’s job, reduced professional efficacy.
  3. Pursuing Higher Education: Upskilling self through higher studies or learning a new skill would not only bring new prospects, but would also be helpful in revamping the way things are foreseen, career-wise. However, this would require your full-time attention and hence may often require taking one load of work off until you shape yourself for future.
  4. Start a business: Time off work will give you the bandwidth to think on the ideas and work towards them with a detailed research, sourcing of funds etc. and will help to accelerate the long-dwelled idea if any.

Things to plan before taking that break

  1. Six Month Cushion: Savings would play an important role here; try squeezing all the unwanted expenses so that you build a cushion for self to fall on when on a break. The more the savings the easier it would be to choose the desired profile when you plan to re-join.
  2. Stick to Schedule: Although you would be on a break, ensure you have a disciplined yet flexible schedule for self and others in the family so that you do not drift into laziness.
  3. Communicate clearly: Do not go on a career break unannounced or with misconceptions, ensure you inform your seniors of your plans in advance and act responsibly towards the organisation you work for and leave on good terms so that it is easy to come back in case you have to later.
  4. Plan to up-skill or re-skill your resume: Plan to pursue new skills to take on better roles once you are back to work from the break.
  5. Prepare an Explanation: It is necessary to prepare and explain a career break once you join back workforce, providing perspectives of how this break has helped you to increase your competency and how it will help in your new role.
  6. Do not enter the cocoon: When everyone else would be busy with their professional lives, it becomes easy to isolate, however, now is the time to explore and make new networks and maintain the old ones by staying in touch.
  7. Always be Up-to-date: It is important to be up-to-date with the world, it is easier to slack when on a break, however take time out to update yourself with news, tabloids etc.
  8. Plan for a Comeback: Give yourself time but keep a timeline to it as well, before the timeline hits ensure to start the job hunt so that you get the feel of the current markets.

It takes guts to decide and announce career breaks, a very recent example being the Prime Minister of New Zealand Ms. Jacinda Ardern who resigned from her position owing to burnout. Taking such breaks when needed is quite normal, the key is to understand oneself and prioritise self in taking such decisions.

As per Hindu mythology, Devshayani Ekadashi is a day in a year that marks the commencement of Lord Vishnu going into deep sleep for around 4 months, to attain Yoga Nidra or a state of relaxation. Well, if The Preserver himself takes a break, as humans we should just go for it. Let’s make career breaks normal and not something to be looked down upon.

February being the month of expressing love, take time not just for your loved ones but also for self in analysing and thinking about your needs, indulge in some self love and take that break if required.